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Leadership Scholars Program


*Asterisk denotes continuing Leadership Scholars

Maryam Abdur Rasheed, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘19, is a pre-med student with a cell biology and neuroscience major and a minor in psychology.  Maryam is involved in community service as the leader for Youth Division of Communitopia, a nonprofit organization based in Middlesex County, where she helps promote a charitable presence fundraising events. She developed important research skills as a participant in the Douglass Project SUPER and aspires to be more involved in social activism and the neuroscience field and finding a way to combine these two areas of interest.

Olivia Ajiake*, School of Arts and Sciences ‘18, intends to be a social work major with minors in women’s & gender studies and social justice. A native of California, Olivia is very involved in her community through her work with the local school district, the California YMCA Youth & Government program, and other youth programs in her area. She is particularly passionate about helping underprivileged youth, homeless individuals, and victims of injustice. Currently, she is involved with Rutgers Voorhees Choir and Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship. Olivia looks forward to internships and other opportunities to be a leader at Rutgers in the coming years.

Ifrah Akhtar, School of Arts and Sciences ’18, is a religion major and biology minor. She is vice president of RU Atelier and Pre-Students of Osteopathic Medicine, and actively involved in various Rutgers student organizations on campus.  In the summer 2015, she was awarded an internship at the Coriell Institute where she worked with scientists who provide cells for research around the globe. She is interested in personalized medicine, stem cells, interactions between religion and medicine, and the role of design and art in societies. Ifrah loves motivating students to pursue their dreams and is always ready to help someone in need. She hopes to pursue a master’s in religion and attend medical school in the near future.

Zahra Bukhari, Mason Gross School of the Arts/Douglass Residential College ’18, is a fine arts major with a double concentration in print and design. She is the secretary for the Mason Gross Student Governing Association, a Rutgers University Student Assembly representative, and the student representative for the Visual Arts department. Zahra also serves as Secretary for the Douglass Governing Council, is a Global Village Ambassador, and a member of the Muslim Students’ Association graphics and submissions teams.  With her education, Zahra hopes to pursue a career that uses art as a form of expression to contradict the misrepresentations of Islam, Muslims and women in the media and bring awareness to conflicts surrounding these issues.

Amy Clark*, School of Arts and Sciences ‘17, is an American studies major with a minor women’s & gender studies. She serves as the Douglass Class of 2017 Representative and Organizing Director for the undergraduate student government, the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA).  Through her positions in RUSA, she advocates for the needs of students to the university administration and assists student-led social action groups in on-campus demonstrations and campaigns.  Amy currently interns with the New Jersey Folk Festival as the Children’s Activities Coordinator.  In the future, she hopes to attend graduate school and work with non-profit organizations on social justice issues.

Rhonda Coons*, School of Arts and Sciences ‘16, is a criminal justice major, with a minor in women’s & gender studies.  Rhonda is a member of Rutgers’ criminal justice organization, an advocate for Victim Violence Prevention & Victim Assistance program, a member of the Douglass College bunting program, and an academic peer mentor for the Mountainview Program. She is interested in law and legal advocacy for women, minority rights and learning about the judicial system. She works in her community with the coordinator for Covenant Project to Eradicate Mass Incarceration, an initiative of the Social Action Commission of her church.

Chelsea (C.C.) Crane, School of Arts and Sciences/School of Communication and Information ‘18, is a journalism and media studies major, with minors in history and gender and media.  Chelsea participated in the IWL WINGS program through the 2015-2016 academic year and currently works on campus at Rutgers Television Network where she executive produces the live morning show “Wake Up Rutgers.”  She is a member of the Rutgers Veg Society, an activist club on campus devoted to spreading awareness about animal rights.  Chelsea is interested in improving media representation for marginalized groups, especially in online platforms like YouTube.

Jamila Daniel, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ’18, is a cultural anthropology major with a double minor in education as a social science and linguistics. She is interested in education as a tool for social mobility and is completing research on global education pedagogy in the U.S and abroad. As a conversation facilitator with the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and the Collaborative Center, she works with adult English language learners. Along with education, Jamila is also focused on community advancement developing an initiative using ethnographic research where those who are impacted by poverty and those who act against it by narrating their experiences. Jamila is a member of the Anthropology Club where she displays passion for her field and works to ensure her peers’ accomplishments while also generating interest in the discipline. 

Sweta Devarajan*, School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program ‘17 is a public health and applied kinesiology double major. She has practiced Bharatanatyam, South Indian classical dance, for 14 years and continues on the award-winning team, Rutgers Natya. She works for Americorps through the Rutgers Bonner Leader program, with a focus on domestic violence and food security. Furthermore, she works as a Sexual Health Advocate and HIV Tester for Rutgers Health Services. Sweta is an Honors Ambassador and peer mentor. She serves on the board for the Rutgers Chapter of the New Jersey Public Health Association. Lastly, Sweta is passionate about health equity and hopes to find ways to give women leadership positions in the health sector and encourage self-representation.

Kai Durant, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ’18, is a double major in sociology and women & gender studies. She is part of the SAS Honors Program, the Residence Hall Association, Douglass Student Recruitment Network, Douglass Friends of UNFPA, and the Douglass Orientation Committee. She participated in the IWL’s summer service learning program (CLASP) where she interned at Artist Mentoring against Racism Drugs & Violence (AMARD) and hopes to pursue a career that focuses on social justice and fight inequality.

Salma Elakbawy, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College '19, is a public policy and economics double major. She is currently a work study student at the women's and gender studies department, which has encouraged her interest in gender studies and its integration within the economics and public policy fields. Salma currently serves as an E-board member of the NAACP, and is a club member of the Palestinian Children Relief Fund as well as the RU Choice Club that advocates for women's reproductive rights. After graduation, Salma plans to attend law school and become a global women's rights advocate.

Najeeha (Gia) Farooqi*, Rutgers Business School '17, is a supply chain management major with a minor in political science. She is actively involved on campus and serves as the public relations chair of the Rutgers University Mock Trial team, is a member of the Muslim Student Association, and a Communications Chair Business Association for Supply Expertise. She is also an active member of the spoken word community and finds poetry an avenue for change and healing. She hopes to intersect her passions for both the business and legal worlds.

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